Sarah Greene On Sexy Beast: ‘It Was Exciting To Play Someone So Body Confident’

By Olivia Emily

4 months ago

Sexy Beast is streaming from this Friday

Launching on Paramount+ this Friday (25 January) is Sexy Beast, a brand new romantic thriller series and prequel to the 2000 film of the same name. Set in the underbelly of 1990s London, we follow best friends and thieves Gal Dove (James McArdle) and Don Logan (Emun Elliott) who are sucked into the city’s criminal world. The scene stealer, however, is DeeDee Harrison (played by Sarah Greene), who Gal begins an ill advised romance with. We sat down with Sarah to hear all about the series ahead of its release.

Sarah Greene On Sexy Beast

A photo of Sarah in a button up sweater

Sarah Greene by Pip

Hi Sarah, how’s life going at the moment? 

It’s great but also pretty hectic, if I’m honest. I’m shooting season two of Bad Sisters. The schedule is gruelling and the days are long, so I’m away from my family a lot which is super hard. But I’m having an absolute ball being back on set with my Garvey sisters. I just love working with them all. We laugh an awful lot. The writing is incredible and I feel extremely lucky. I’m about to break for Christmas. My family are coming to me, and then we’ll celebrate my little boy turning three at the end of the month. Busy, but brilliant.

You’re about to appear in Sexy Beast on Paramount+ – can you give us an elevator pitch for the show?

Well, I think at its heart, it’s a love story. It’s a story of friendship. Of loyalties. And a few heists. It’s set in London in the 1990s. A time before iPhone and emails. Fashion was bold and music was great. It’s an exciting, fast paced, romantic thriller.

You play DeeDee – how would you describe her?

I adored playing DeeDee. When we meet her, she’s at the top of her game working in the porn industry. She’s really good at her job and she genuinely loves it. She just wants more control. She has a brilliant business mind and wants to be a director. She knows she has power, and she’s super clever at being/playing exactly who and what people want her to be, and she uses it to her advantage. She cares deeply for the people she works with – they are her family. She is an incredibly smart woman. She’s ambitious, she’s fun, and she’s not afraid of her sexuality. But she’s also a little broken and a little hurt, and not many people get to see that side of her. She craves love. Like us all.

What was it like playing her?

I was nervous. It’s one of my favourite films, and they are really big shoes to fill. Amanda [Redman] is so incredible in the film and their love is so beautiful. We really wanted to get that right. It’s so exciting getting to explore these characters and give them a back story. I always wondered how they met. How they ended up in Spain. What their relationship looked like in those early days. Essentially, Deedee really doesn’t care what people think of her. She’s not afraid to speak her mind. There is such freedom in playing that. I suppose it’s something I struggled with, especially when I was younger, so it was a therapy of sorts. It was also quite exciting to play someone so body confident –something I also struggle with after having my son. I really had to learn to love myself and this new body in order to do her justice.

How did you get into character/prepare for the role?

I watched the film over and over and studied Amanda’s performance and her journey through the film. I also watched a lot of late ’80s and early ’90s porn. I particularly like the Italian ones. I read a few porn autobiographies and watched some porn documentaries to try get into the mindset of a porn star. I like to give my characters some core memories, so I thought a lot about her life and what her up bringing was like. I worked with a brilliant voice coach, Emma Stephens, on the accent and she helped me find her voice. Very grateful to Emma for her patience and guidance throughout the process.

Any funny stories from rehearsals or filming?

Myself and James [McArdle] went for dinner together after rehearsals that first week. We didn’t really know each other all that well but we bonded over a bottle of champagne or two, some great food and ended the night dancing in Liverpool’s famous Coyote Ugly bar. At one point I remember shouting ‘I feel like Gal and Deedee in the Costa Del Sol’. It was joyful.

You’ve also got The Way of the Wind coming up – can you tell us a bit about that?

Yes, it’s Terrence Malick’s new film. I never read the script – not that I’m lazy, I just didn’t receive a script. What I can tell you is that I had the most incredible experience shooting all over in Iceland with Terrence and his team. What a brilliant, brilliant director and such a lovely human. I feel incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him. It was a joy and a privilege to be directed by him.

Our readers might know you best from Bad Sisters. What was that like to be a part of? 

Oh, it’s just the best. We absolutely loved shooting season one. We all thought it was great and so we are just so delighted audiences felt so, too. It was a very special shoot with an incredible group of women, playing brilliant, complex characters. It’s such an utter joy to be back together again shooting season two. Sharon Horgan is a genius.

Any standout moments from filming? 

So many… I’ll never get over the icy cold 40 foot days in the water. Also, the scene in the bedroom where the sisters are trying to drug and drown the prick – that was so much fun to shoot. I think that was the sisters’ first attempt as a foursome. Oh, and blowing up the cottage. That was so much fun. So thrilling to be part of something on that scale.

Sarah in Bad Sisters

Sarah Greene in “Bad Sisters,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

What has been your favourite project to date? 

Oh god, that’s such a hard one. I don’t know if I can pick a favourite, but one that I am super proud of is a film I did called Rosie. Written by the great Roddy Doyle and directed by the brilliant Paddy Breathnach. It follows a mother of four young children over 36 hours who have recently been made homeless and what a day in their life looks like. Roddy wrote it as a comment on Ireland’s housing crisis. I think it’s a beautiful film about the heartbreaking reality, sadly for many families in Ireland. It’s very upsetting and frustrating that the housing and homeless situation in Ireland has shamefully become worse since we shot the film back in 2018.

Any roles in the pipeline that you’re excited about? (If you’re allowed to tell us!)

I do… But unfortunately, I can’t say. I’m getting the chance to work with someone super cool – a director I’ve admired for years – so I’m really excited. I can’t wait to collaborate with them.

Who has been your favourite actor to work with in the past? 

I’m going to have to say James McArdle. He is such a beautiful, talented man. We got on incredibly well, and he made falling in love with him very easy. I hope we get to do it all again soon. Fingers crossed.

Which co-star did you learn the most from?

I did a play called Little Gem by Elaine Murphy in my early 20s and got to work with the incredible Anita Reeves. An extraordinary actor and person. I learnt so much about the craft and about life in general from Anita. Sadly, she passed away a few years ago, but I carry her memory with me always.

What’s your dream role?

I’d love to play Elizabeth Taylor at some point in my career. She’s just so fabulous and complicated. Also, Natalie Wood, as I’m often told I look like her and I think her life story is pretty extraordinary.

What’s a genre you’d like to do more of?

I’ve never shot a proper horror. Penny Dreadful was a horror of sorts, I suppose, but a real good horror film would be great fun. I’ve been approached about a few, but I’m waiting for the right story. I love a good horror.

Do you get to spend much time at home?

I feel like we are always on the move. We bought an old house a few years ago and did a complete gut. It nearly broke us, but we love the house and the home we have created. We definitely do not get to spend half enough time there. I’m very lucky: my fiancé and little boy travel a lot with me when I’m filming and they are my home. We’ve been apart a lot this last month and I’ve found it incredibly hard. I’m fine once I’m on set and busy with work, but my days off without them are lonely.

Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?

We are very fortunate to live between both. We have a flat in London and then the house is in a town called Holywood, just outside Belfast. We are surrounded by fields and trees with beautiful views of the mountains. I’m not sure which I prefer. I like a healthy mix of both. I love the buzz of London. The choice of food. The museums. To be immersed in so many different cultures. Our days in Belfast are spent in the garden and walking the beach. Extremely grateful and blessed to have both.

What’s your interior design style?

I robbed everything from three designers for my own house: Athena Colderone of @eyeswoon on Instagram, Sophie Ashby of @StudioAshby and Irish design team @ciara_keelan_concepts. I like bold colours and beautiful prints. Mixing old and new, but keeping things classic so they hopefully won’t look outdated in years to come. All through my pregnancy, I was obsessing over light fixtures. My son is also now obsessed with lights, and always comments on them wherever we go. My number one rule is to never put on ‘the big light’. I like things cosy and comfortable. I bought a lot of one off pieces from Studio Ashby’s shop @sisterbystudioashby. Also quite a few pieces and lighting fixtures from @sohohome and big bright couches from @melimeli.

Sarah sat on the ground in a photography studio

Sarah Greene by Pip

How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?

It’s a struggle. We are both artists. Nathan is a musician and, although he’s had some time off these past few years, he’s about to start back on tour and I know, logistically, it is going to get much tougher. But you make it work. You have to. For myself, I try go to see the brilliant Ross J Barr for acupuncture when I can. I would be lost without his calm and sleep patches. I also try get into see Keren Bartov and her team for a facial when I’m filming.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I saw a panto when I was four or five and decided there and then that I wanted to be on the stage. My parents put me in classes and that was that. I’ve never not wanted to do what I am doing. I’m very lucky they were so supportive.

If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be? 

Listen to your gut. Invest in your friendships and don’t put them second best to a romantic relationship. Stop caring what people think of you. Nobody actually gives a sh*t about you (except your parents). Everyone is way too busy worrying about themselves.

How can we all live a little bit better?

Be more compassionate. Love more. Judge less. Mind your business. Life can be really hard and we are all just struggling along.

Anything fun in the pipeline – professionally or personally?

Try to find time to plan our wedding.

Sarah Greene Recommends…

I’m currently watching… Yellowstone on Paramount+. Love a bit of Kev Costner.

What I’m reading… Bad Sister scripts. I carry books around with me but, honestly, now that I have a three year old, the only chance I get to prep for work is on flights or at work. I always have a copy of Yung Pueblos’ Inward book with me. It was gifted to me by my lovely friend, actor and writer, Conor MacNeil. I find his words so powerful and really useful for character studies. I will always find something in his writing to help navigate a character or emotion.

The last thing I watched (and loved) was… Flora and Son by John Carney, starring our very own Eve Hewson. It is SUCH a gorgeous film. Eve is on fire, and herself and Oren Kinlan are just beautiful together. Highly recommend watching on Apple TV. Such a feel good film. You will laugh and cry.

What I’m most looking forward to seeing… Eva Birthistle has written and directed her first feature film and I’m beyond excited to see it. Off the back of her award winning short, her feature, Kathleen Is Here was shot in Ireland in 2023, and we should see it in festivals in the months to come.

Favourite film of all time… Oh that’s hard. Can I list 3?

  • Magnolia by Paul Thomas Anderson immediately springs to mind. So many incredible performances and moments. He’s a director I would love to work with. That’s the dream, anyway.
  • I think the first film I watched that had a real profound impact on me was Kramer vs Kramer. Watching Meryl Streep’s performance when I was quite young made such a massive, lasting impression on me.
  • And I have to say Sexy Beast. A brilliant piece of cinema.

Favourite song of all time… ‘Make This Go On Forever’ by Snow Patrol. I’ve watched it live so many times and it always moves me.

Band/singer I always have on repeat… Nathan Connolly. I don’t really have a choice. My son is obsessed with his dad and, whenever we get into the car, he demands ‘Daddy’s band’. Occasionally at home, we are allowed listen to The Black Keys and Gorillaz, but in the car it’s always ‘Daddy’s band’. It’s very cute watching him bop his little head in the back. A tiny rocker.

My ultimate cultural recommendation… Translations by the incredible Brian Friel. Whether you get to read it, or even better, see it, do. It’s a beautiful, beautiful story of Ireland, its people, language and history.

Cultural guilty pleasure… Real Housewives. Obviously.

What’s next for me is… A small break.


Sexy Beast is streaming on Paramount+ from 25 January 2024. Watch the trailer below.